I stand quietly in the French doorway as Alivia's Mom holds her hands and gently leads her through the cha-cha steps on the dance floor. Alivia's flower girl dress billows around her, and it is a mother-daughter moment her other grandmother tries to capture with a click of her camera. This was a moment to treasure in a day filled with such moments -- the wedding day of Alivia's uncle.
On this glorious September day we gathered as a picture-perfect family -- the affection, the laughter, the happy tears. These days are the reward for carefully nurturing family bonds. Below the silky smooth surface, however, lies all the drama of family -- the hurt, anger, and disappointment that is so much a part of every family saga. Somehow, the bonds of family hold us together despite our differences. While there are times we can't begin to understand each other, we share a history and links of genes and love that offer us security and comfort in this cold world.
A few weeks ago, I received an unexpected gift in the mail. I carefully opened the box and gently lifted out a most incredibly lovely afghan. There was a note from my cousin. She and her sisters had each contributed crocheted blocks and created this beautiful gift in memory of my sister. I had been especially missing my sister as the anniversary of her death passed earlier this summer, and the afghan brought me a tremendous sense of comfort. As I snuggle into its softness, I can feel the warm thoughts and prayers woven into each block.
This summer has been filled with special moments -- a Fourth of July party at a cousin's house with family members I seldom see, a graduation party for another cousin, the announcement that I will become a grandmother again next spring, a lovely dinner with a beloved uncle and his family -- it is always a joy to reconnect with loved ones and enjoy these gatherings.
At the wedding yesterday I sat with the groom's mother -- my close friend for over thirty years and my son's mother-in-law -- and the groom's grandmother whom I love dearly. She is in her 80's and now has twenty-eight great-grandchildren, and she never misses a family celebration. I looked out over the tables at the faces of these children I have loved for so many years -- now grown up with children of their own. What a gift it is to feel your heart bursting with love!!
These special days in the lives of our families are over much too quickly, and we return to the struggles of day-to-day life. We are stressed, hurtful words are spoken, we suffer disappointments and losses, and we sometimes forget how blessed we are to be part of our extended families. But blessed we are!!